Juneau, AK – Alaska Congressman Don Young shared the following statement upon announcement of the Air Force’s Final Record of Decision (ROD) for the beddown of two F-35A squadrons at Eielson Air Force Base:
“Today’s Record of Decision confirms a longstanding belief that Alaska’s strategic location and unique military value are far too important to be overlooked. This decision, the latest in a series of events, demonstrates that the Department of Defense has truly recognized Alaska for the vital role we play in supporting the military’s mission. From the announcement to delay cuts to JBER’s 4-25, basing the Gray Eagle UAV’s and Apache Helicopters at Fort Wainwright, keeping the F-16s at Eielson and now today’s announcement, it is clear DOD understands that Alaska’s strategic value – its vast training areas, proximity to the Asia-Pacific, and our commitment to serving our military – is unmatched anywhere else in the world.
“From the beginning, my case for bringing the F-35 to Alaska has focused on fulfilling the mission. While I’m proud to have played a role in this process, having secured language in each of the last two National Defense Authorization Acts that emphasized Alaska’s immense military value and the benefits Eielson offers the Air Force, I’ve always said that Alaska’s contributions to our military sell themselves.
“In addition to the many Alaskan leaders who fought for this momentous decision, I must thank the efforts of the thousands of everyday Alaskans who wrote letters in support of this action, attended events hosted by the Air Force and the Fairbanks North Star Borough, and so much more. These Alaskans demonstrated how supportive Interior Alaska is to the Air Force, and reinforced that there is no better place to base these two squadrons of F-35’s than Eielson Air Force Base.
“While I’m disappointed the Air Force has decided to switch the basing timelines for Burlington and Eielson, I understand the factors that went into the decision. I will continue to monitor this decision closely to ensure the Air Force and the F-35 program stay on track and that Eielson continues its role in ensuring our nation’s air superiority remains for decades to come.”
Due to previously scheduled travel in Southeast Alaska, Congressman Young participated in today’s announcement by telephone. Congressman Young, along with the Alaska congressional delegation, has long fought to bring the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to Alaska. Young worked to secure provisions in both the House-Passed FY15 and enacted FY16 NDAA, which detailed criteria and capabilities for basing the F-35 found only at Eielson Air Force Base.
Congressman Young’s Push for Alaska F-35 Joint Strike Fighter:
· February 25, 2016: Congressman Young met with Acting Undersecretary of the Air Force Lisa Disbrow, where they discussed the military value of Eielson Air Force Base. Congressman Young spoke on behalf of Eielson for the F-35 mission, as it offers capabilities that no other base offers the Air Force.
· November 10, 2015: Congress sends the FY16 NDAA to the President’s desk containing language secured by Congressman Young regarding the OCONUS basing of the F-35A. Young’s language placed emphasis on criteria and capabilities, found only at Eielson AFB, basing locations should feature.
· October 20, 2015: The Alaska Congressional Delegation wrote a joint letter in support of the F-35 basing at Eielson AFB during the Draft EIS comment period.
· September 2015: Congressman Young provides written testimony for the Air Force’s Basing Decision Scoping Session
· March 25, 2015: Congressman Young testifies via teleconference at a public scoping meeting on F-35 basing in Fairbanks, AK
· June 27, 2014: The Fairbanks North Star Borough honors Congressman Young for his amendment to the FY15 NDAA that identified Eielson AFB as the preferred location for the F-35.
· May 22, 2014: The House passes the FY15 NDAA, containing Young’s F-35 amendment for basing two OCONUS F-35 squadrons.
· October 15, 2013: Alaska Congressional Delegation writes letter to the Secretary of the Air Force urging the strong consideration of Eielson AFB base for basing the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in the Asia-Pacific Theater.